If you join in a conversation about how slow your computer is running someone will almost always ask, “Have you defragged your hard drive?” Do you nod and think to yourself I don’t know what that is but I don’t want to ask? Let me explain.
The weakest link in a computer is the hard disk; the part that holds your files. It is often the bottleneck on a computer, running around 2 million times slower than the processor! This slowness is because it has moving parts. (It’s the bit you hear grinding away on an old computer). Fragmentation of files directly affects the speed a hard disk can work at.
So what is file fragmentation? Imagine you take a letter and tear it up into 100 pieces then throw it up in the air. Now you need to put it back together so you can read the letter again. In a nutshell, is fragmentation. Over time chunks of data get separated on the hard disk and the computer has to look all over the surface of the disk to find the bit of information it needs. This takes time and can cause crashes and system hangs. By performing a defrag the computer puts all the pieces back together in a closer order so that it can access them faster. This should result in your computer working a bit more efficiently and reduces wear and tear on the Hard disk itself. See the before and after picture below
However, if you have a SSD, a Solid State Drive rather than a Hard Disk Drive you must not defragment as these disks work differently. If you defrag a SSD you can shorten the life of it.
Your Windows computer is scheduled to defrag automatically but this can often be missed if you do not use your computer regularly. You can do it manually the program is under Windows Administrative Tools menu, or you can download one called “Defraggler” from www.piriform.com.